Former Chilliwack, B.C., couple caring for war refugees in Ukraine

Their lives are chaotic.

There is little time for sleep.

But in a mountainous region of western Ukraine, so far spared the violence of Russia’s invasion, a couple from Canada is on the ground, caring for refugees from the war.

Until last July, Chad and Mary Martz lived in Chilliwack, B.C., with their 17-year-old daughter.

That’s when they packed up and moved to Ukraine so they could carry on their humanitarian work with a Christian organization called “Hungry for Life International.”

Mary is originally from Ukraine, and the family now finds themselves positioned for work perhaps more crucial than ever before.

“People are just driving this way without even knowing where they are going,” Chad Martz said in an interview from Ukraine.

“They’re just trying to get out of the conflict zone.”

More than half a million refugees have now fled Ukraine, but many others are making their way to the western part of the country.

“We’ve been able to support the necessities of food, of clothing, of water. All the needs for those who are coming to this side, fleeing from the conflict zone,” Martz said.

Those they’ve helped include more than 50 orphans along with the staff and their families from the orphanage.

The couple has also partnered up with churches who are finding places for hundreds of desperate refugees forced from their homes as Russian tanks and terror pushed into their cities.

“They’re leaving everything. That’s why even at the border you are looking at all these cars, all the people, all these buses coming,” he said.

Martz said each day of war brings different complications and concerns.

“The resources are starting to get fewer and fewer. Stores are closing. The ways of paying for food is getting a lot more difficult,” he said.

“I was at the gas station…and there’s no fuel,” Martz explained.

“There’s only diesel and you can take only 20 litres of it. Things are becoming very scarce.”

Martz said already the war has had long-lasting consequences.

“There’s just been some horrific things. These people are very much traumatized.”

But Martz also said he’s amazed at the resiliency of people in Ukraine who he said are united in their fight against the Russians.

He said one relative told him: “I’m free. I’ve been free. I’m not going to live under that again.”

While Martz and his family could return to Canada, they are choosing to stay and care for the people in a country fighting desperately for freedom.

He said his family is extremely grateful for the help of Canadians who have been supporting their work

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.